“Wants and Desires” by John Reed

I experience two types of desires. One is sort of a short term physical desire, like an urge, and the other is a persistent, love driven desire, like a persistent long term want. The latter I tend to feel more in my chest and they tend to be “big desires” rather than “urges”. For example, maybe I want a romantic partner in my life (or maybe to one day make a kid with said romantic partner in the future). That’s more the second type of want, or a “big desire”. “Big desires” can be the foundation on which you set long term goals, like for example the long term goal of healthy weight loss or of obtaining a long term romantic relationship that will eventually lead to marriage. The first type of desire is more like the following situation: I walk by a candy store and I see a lollipop and I want [desire] to put it in my mouth. I know that sounded gay, but I am not sexually attracted towards male people – I am heterosexual.

Anyway, the first type of desire is more about instant gratification where as the second type of desire [i.e. what a person really (truly) wants in life] is almost a spiritual need or a need that one has as a person, and it can sort of guide people in the long term. Like I know that if I were single and never had a romantic relationship there would be like a hole in my life just like for example maybe never having a father would leave a hole in your life. Like there is something kind of sad about never having a father. The second type of desire, at least for me, keeps taking me places in life – it sort of pushes me forward. I guess one way to think of it is impulse (impulse driven) vs compulse (or human compulsion) in life. Candy is more like an impulse where as having a kid of your own or making a difference is more like a “higher pleasure” in one’s life, if that makes any sense. Love is more related to the second kind of desire (compulsion) than the first (impulse).

Imagine that there were a button on a table, and every time you hit that button with your hand, you had an orgasm. If you had no impulse control, you would hit the shit out of that button, but eventually you would get bored (or maybe you would need to go to “Pleasure Button Anonymous” [parody of “Alcoholic’s Anonymous“]). That orgasm feeling you get from hitting that button is like a shot of dopamine to your head. It feels good for like a second and then it goes away. Maybe if you’re lucky it’ll feel good for like five seconds instead of one second (I actually once tested out a psychiatric drug called Selegeline that caused orgasms to last a lot longer because it inhibited the breakdown of dopamine which is released from orgasms), but that transient short-term gratification is still sort of a temporary, almost instantaneous pleasure.

The second sort of happiness is a different feeling. I personally feel it more in my heart than in my brain. The United States’s Declaration of Independence has this phrase:

“We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness”

I personally would replace “men” with “people” because nowadays we have birth control and female people are no longer “baby making machines [i.e. property]” that can be purchased in exchange for a cow and three goats, but you get the idea.

At the end of that quote is the phrase “life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness”. Pay particular attention to the word “happiness”. What kind of happiness are they talking about? Think back to the example of the imaginary button that you could put on your table, and every time you hit that button, you had an orgasm. I don’t think that is the kind of happiness that they are talking about. That is more like immediate pleasure, and I don’t think that is what the Declaration of Independence was referring to.

I think they were referring to a deeper (some might call it “higher”) form of happiness, like a happiness that is tied to a life pursuit. A less transient form of happiness than the instantaneous gratification that one gets from the immediate satisfaction of a mere urge. I’ll make up a ridiculous example just to get a point across.

This isn’t me, but imagine that there is someone who LOVES money. Like they just want to sit on a giant pile of dollar bills. They love money the way some people love their spouse. This is kind of ridiculous, but it is meant to get a point across:

Mr. Krabs

Now in the cartoon SpongeBob, Mr. Krabs loves money. Like he just sees it and he feels drawn to it and he wants to touch it. He is attracted to money. Even though I sort of feel a physical response to physical cash, I am not attracted to money, but he is. The weird thing about touching cash with my hands is that I get this weird feeling almost like I get when touching a female person (I inadvertently experienced that sensation in my left hand during this photo shoot in Vegas), but my body can’t get turned on from touching physical cash, so the feeling I get from cash isn’t sexual. It’s hard to explain exactly what I mean, but I sometimes don’t like touching physical cash and I don’t want to accumulate it – like if I have spare nickels in my apartment and I don’t want to go to the bank I just throw them away (where as Mr. Krabs would never throw away one penny).

Anyway, to me money is just a number on my online checking account that goes up or down from month to month, but to Mr. Krabs, the accumulation of money is more than just being able to pay the rent, buy food, and pay bills like the electric bill which is automatically deducted from my online checking account. To Mr. Krabs, the accumulation of money is (to him) sort of like what finding a spouse is to me. He loves money and to him the hoarding of money is like a life goal, at least during his time here on Earth (but after he is dead I think the vast majority of his money should go to the government or at the very least to philanthropy because there is no way in hell a kid can responsibly spend billions of dollars in corporate stock that he inherited from his father). Sometimes it’s hard to sell that much stock and assets at market value in a short period of time, but eventually that money should be transferred in such a way that it serves people who are not the child of a billionaire. Going back to talking about the hypothetical Mr. Krabs, the accumulation of money while he is alive is a higher form of happiness to him sort of like a romantic relationship (or the obtaining of a love based romantic relationship) is a higher form of happiness to me. Mr. Krabs really loves money and is attracted to cash the way some people are attracted to their spouse, which is why he went into business and built the Krusty Krab. Note that this is an allegory – I am not really talking about the TV show “SpongeBob SquarePants”.

Now what if I told Mr. Krabs that he had to give up all of his money. Worse yet, what if I took all his money away from him and put a curse on him such that everyone he touched turned into a pile of money. Like imagine that Mr. Krabs now has King Midas’s golden touch and everyone he touched – his daughter, his parents, his friends, his wife – they all turned into piles of money. This would crush him. Why he would hate the very thing that he loves. In my opinion, this curse would literally be a human rights abuse because it would deny Mr. Krabs a deeper form of satisfaction in his life. In the Declaration of Independence, I think that when they refer to “the pursuit of happiness”, they are referring to satisfaction in life rather than instant gratification in the form of immediate pleasure. They are referring to the “big happiness” or the “latter kind” rather than the “urge” kind or “the first type of desire” which I described in the first paragraph of this article. An urge is more like an itch that you want to scratch rather than something that one can pursue in life.

Mill’s Utilitarianism is seen as a competing theory with Kant’s Categorical Imperative, of which I believe in the second form. In Mill’s utilitarianism, he talks about two forms of pleasure – a higher form and a lower form. In my opinion, love and the pursuit of love (whether that be love of money, love of life, love of romantic partner, etc) is the “higher form” and instantaneous gratification is the “lower form”. I personally hate instantaneous gratification. Instantaneous gratification is often bad in the long run, whether it be in the form of an addiction, “junk food” [which over time causes people to become obese, ill, and die prematurely], smoking, escaping from life’s problems with a video game addiction, gambling addiction, drug addiction, or anything like that. Those sorts of things are almost like a secular version of “sin”.

In another blog post, I talked about my secular God. I may be an atheist, but I sort of see myself as like a secular prophet in a way (like I know I’m not actually magic and that I don’t have magic powers or anything like that, but I have a message). Like in human history there were prophets who spread the word during their time, and that is what I seek to do, but I am spreading my secular word. Even though I am not religious, I don’t want a totally nihilistic life and ultimately I do not believe that you have to be religious to have a feeling that something is wrong or bad and that you shouldn’t do it. I do not have to be a Christian, a Muslim, or Jewish to think that say gambling all your family’s money away and giving your children cancer from second hand smoking is a sin. It’s fucking bad. You should be able to comprehend that this is a bad thing regardless of what your faith is. Like in this [hypothetical] situation, you have literally ruined and destroyed your entire nuclear family. This [hypothetical act] is bad regardless of what your faith is. You should be able to sort of see or figure out what is bad and sort of see or figure out what is good and carve out a path in life that is guided by your sense of love and good. This is like my “secular faith”.

  • John

Twitter threads:



“Freedom of Religion” by John Reed

This article is a continuation of: https://johnreedforpresident.home.blog/2019/05/23/my-atheist-god/

Just a few hours ago, I had a thought. The thought wasn’t true, but the thought was that a person was attacking my faith. Not my Christian faith, but my atheist faith. Allow me to explain.

My atheism is like a faith in and of itself. I built my life on the assumption that I will not have an afterlife. For example, because I never believed that I will have an afterlife, I invested heavily into health (diet and exercise) and even went into pre-med in my younger years. My thinking was that if I don’t have an afterlife, then all I have is this life, and for that reason, I want this life to last a long time. The longer this life is, the more time I will have. This is an assumption that I made which was guided by my belief, or my faith, that there will not be an afterlife. This is an assumption that I made, and I built my life on this assumption. It has influenced my decisions and shaped my system of beliefs.

Now imagine that someone who was very religious confronted me and told me that my belief was heresy, that there is an afterlife, and that I will go to hell for my belief. As a non-religious person, I would perceive this as more than just an attack on an idea or a belief that I hold. I would perceive it as an attack on me. One’s beliefs are built on top of their faith, and an attack on one’s faith is perceived as an attack on them. It is perceived as a personal attack. It is a form of persecution.

Ultimately, the way I generally see the world is that human actions are dictated by the humans themselves and not by God. I see a rock, and I am the one who moves my hand to touch it, not God. My God doesn’t actually do anything – people do things, and God (if God exists) sort of just watches. This is how I perceive the world. My sense of “good love” and “evil hate” is on the inside, and if God is love, then my God is, like me feeling of Love, on the inside. For example, I could imagine that there is like a little God in each of us. Sometimes I can sort of imagine something over my shoulder, but in general I don’t see a God on the outside. Some people might see a person move and think that God moved that person. I see that person as having moved themself the way I move myself. I usually do not have an external sense of God.

Some atheists seem sort of anti-religion or anti-Christian. There were even stories of people who attacked, burned, or blew up churches (hopefully with no people in them). The story at this link might just be “Fake News” that was generated as part of the investigation into Russian Intelligence’s attempt to pit Americans against one another using the media (ex. Facebook ads and news), but let’s assume for a second that this story about an atheist running around burning Black churches is real. In general I think what is really happening in real attacks by atheists on churches is that these (usually crazy) non-religious people perceive that Christianity is threatening their atheist faith, and this is their response. This really isn’t that different from a (crazy) Muslim blowing up a Christian church or a (crazy) Christian blowing up a Muslim mosque. Ultimately, just like these faiths, I see atheism as a faith that one has, and if a religious person says “no, there is a God, you are wrong and you are going to hell for it”, that is like an attack on an atheist’s faith. Atheists just sort of assume that they are right (and this belief that they have, if it is true, means that, from their perspective, someone else’s belief to the contrary is not true). They can’t actually prove this belief that they have to other people, so their atheism is a faith that they have. They have faith that there isn’t a God (at least in the outside world) and that there isn’t an afterlife. This is a belief that they hold. This belief is true TO THEM, and they operate under the assumption that this belief that they hold is true, just like religious people operate under the assumption that there is a God and that this belief that they hold is true. Ultimately, a religious person can point and say “look, God!”, and an atheist can point the same way that the religious person is pointing and say “I see no God!”, and they can do this all day long and make zero forward progress. Ultimately the atheist is assuming that their belief is right and the religious person is assuming that their belief is right. The atheist can’t actually disprove the other person’s belief and the theist can’t actually disprove the atheist’s belief. They both just sort of have the way they see the world, and their reality and their belief is based on that. Regardless of how much each person believes “I am right”, they can’t actually change the way another person perceives the world.

I was never a religious person, and that was true for my entire life. I never saw anything as an act of God. Everything I did or everything that other people did I always saw as an act of people, not of God. If I did sort of imagine something over my shoulder or above me, that thing that I imagined never did anything. From my perspective, absolutely nothing that happens is an act of God. That is the way that I see the world. That is my faith.

Does this mean that I should attack other people’s faiths? Absolutely not. My faith is my faith and your faith is your faith. An attack on my faith is an attack on me just as an attack on your faith is an attack on you. Ultimately, the more someone thinks that their faith is under attack, the more they will want to respond or retaliate. This is true even if they just think that their faith is under attack, even if it isn’t actually under attack. If atheists believe that their atheism is under attack by very religious people, this will probably provoke a response from them. Maybe they will respond by doubling down on their atheism in response to this perceived threat on their belief system. This is equally true for religious people. If atheists attack their belief system, and they feel threatened by it, they will probably double down on their beliefs. If I recall correctly, sales of the Bible actually went up after Richard Dawkins published a book called “The God Delusion”. Richard Dawkins actually believes that he is right and that most of the rest of the population is wrong, and this is a belief that he holds, and to be honest it’s not something that he can actually prove to other people. A religious person can point up at the sky and say that they see God there, and then Richard Dawkins can pull out a video camera and say “no look – look at this video tape directed at the exact spot where you are pointing your finger – no God here”, and they can do this literally all day long and make zero forward progress. Ultimately, people have their belief, and it is their belief, and ultimately atheism is just a belief just as theism is just a belief. My belief is my belief, and I do not want anyone attacking or persecuting it. That is why, when it comes to Freedom of Religion, I believe that each individual’s faith must be protected from persecution. I believe that an attack on a person’s faith is an attack on them. No one’s faith should be under attack and no one should feel personally persecuted for their personal faith. Your God is your God and your faith is your faith. Freedom of religion for all (including people who aren’t religious).

Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1131299319531937792

My Atheist God

For all practical purposes, I am an atheist, but my atheism is still sort of like a faith in and of itself. For all the religious people out there, I would like to introduce you to my Atheist God.

As a person, I have a lot of love, but it is internal rather than external. I feel it in my chest, and I love myself immensely (although I used to fucking hate myself). I am very much drawn to things that I love, and very opposed to the opposite. This is what pushes me towards certain things, this feeling that I have about things. I see indulging in things which are more like “impulses” or “pleasures” as sins (see related: https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1098271065917325312). So things like cigarettes, gambling, fucking (not like people who you are actually attracted to, but like the impulsive kind), gorging on candies, etc. Like to me eating junk food when there is a healthier optional available is bad or sinful, and good is achieved through discipline (like self discipline) and love (like self love). To me sinful acts are like engaging in pleasure without purpose – hedonism. I believe that hedonism is bad. It looks superficially appealing or “glam”, but it is bad and I do not love it. I actually hate it. It is a waste of time and counterproductive to the purpose of life, or at least of your life. My current theory of moralist is loosely based on Kant’s second formula of the Categorical Imperative, which states “Always treat others as ends and not means”.

Going back to the subject of sin or hedonism, some people kind of get drawn to it when they have nothing more important to pursue in life. For example, when I was younger I disliked my life and wanted to kill a lot of time and became engrossed in a video game addiction. It is meaningless. Writing a piece of software for someone at least has meaning, but video games are just sort of a waste of life. In a similar way, building a business has meaning for some people, but gambling is a waste of life. I personally am more into technology than money, but it’s the same idea. It’s people throwing their life away to sin or hedonism in order to fill a lacking.

As an atheist person, I see the world differently than theist people do. Everything I do is a conscious decision on my part. If I don’t make any conscious decisions, I will basically just lie there and do nothing. Or maybe my legs will get kind of restless lying there, so then I will move them to ease the restlessness in my legs, but that’s still a conscious decision coming from me. My God (which is generally non-existent from my perspective) makes absolutely zero decisions for me. I make the decisions, and my God is just kind of inside me, or maybe she just kind of floats there and does nothing. Whether my sense of God is inside me, just over my shoulder, or floating (invisible) like 20 feet above the ground, she does nothing. She just kind of is. I am her. We are one. I feel love in my chest, and that’s my God. I think God is love, but my God doesn’t do anything, and she usually isn’t on the outside.

I guess one reason for my atheism is that regardless of whether my God is inside me, over my shoulder, or above me, my God is for all practical purposes impotent. I am the one who does everything. She doesn’t do anything.

Yesterday on an airplane I listened to a religious women sitting next to me talk. The subject that we were talking about was abortion and the concept of “pro life”. I mentioned that women have periods all the time and that sperm meets egg forming a fertilized cell that can and often does just get menstruated right out. “We know that about half of fertilized eggs never stick around. They just pass out of the woman’s body” (see: https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1080710333147332608). If God put a soul in a cell when sperm fertilizes egg, then my (hypothetical) decision to have unprotected sex with a women during or just before her period would be murder because I would be creating a soul that is then extinguished through menstruation. She (the conservative woman) replied that that doesn’t count because that’s not intentional where as abortion is intentional. My response, which I didn’t say out loud, is to me everything is intentional. God doesn’t do shit. On rare occasions I will think that something is a strange coincidence and maybe that coincidence was an act of God, but then I realize that it was just a coincidence.

Going back to the topic of abortion, if the unborn baby is at eight and a half months old it’s a fucking baby – do a cesarean section for Christ’s sake. This situation was avoidable. A good medical doctor should know this stuff and be able to figure out what the right course of action is, and everyone should have access to a good medical doctor. Medical doctors shouldn’t do medicine for the money. Saving and fixing human people isn’t supposed to be a for profit thing. There shouldn’t be people who “slip through the cracks” or “can’t get care” in the medical system because the existing US medical system is this bloated, disorganized, decentralized, beauraucratic piece of shit that was formed by compromising with stupid, greedy, and even heartless people who frankly should have been told to go fuck themselves. The CEO, shareholders, and board of directors of [BLAH] healthcare company already have a shit ton of money. They don’t need any more money, so they can go fuck themselves. The same is true for the people who collect undergraduate student tuition (50 grand a year? Seriously? What a waste of fucking cash – I went to state school and made good money – private university is a bad investment for the vast majority of people). The cost of undergraduate universities in the US is crazy high, and the big loans that people get don’t exactly force them to pick the lowest price, causing people to pay for bloated “premium” education with lots of “fluff“. Both the hospitals and the universities are bloated fluff services with poor competition and excessive adverting (which looks kind of like catchy sin to me). The medical sector and the higher education sector could use some control from a higher hand. The higher hand of top-down executive control!

Anyway, going back to the story, I was saying that to me everything that I do is intentional (and not an act of God, although to be honest I sort of have this “Messiah Complex” thing where I think that I am like a little God or that God is inside me or something like that, but at the very least I don’t believe that what I do is the result of action taken by an EXTERNAL god who is not me, if that makes any sense). This includes bad things that I do or that I could do (but in general I don’t actually want to do these sorts of things). For example, if I pick up a baseball bat and hit a person on the head with it like Babe Ruth hitting a home run ball, that is intentional. I just (in the hypothetical) made the decision to kill a person with a baseball bat and then did it. That wasn’t the decision of the Devil. That was a decision that I made. If there is a Devil, my Devil, then my Devil doesn’t actually do anything. I mean yeah I get a feeling inside that killing a person by hitting them on the head with a baseball bat is bad, but that feeling is from inside the same way that my feeling of Love is from inside. My “God” or my “Devil” is inside and they don’t actually do anything – I do everything. I exert “top-down executive control” over myself – I am like my own internal God and Devil. Maybe because they are inside, I don’t see any God or Devil or anything on the outside. The closest I get is maybe an invisible feeling or something from over my shoulder or maybe a little above me, but I think that originates from inside my head. In addition, my thinking is basically that even if they (Love/God or Hate/Devil) aren’t there (which they usually are not from my perspective), it generally doesn’t make a difference because they (God/Devil) do nothing (and to me aren’t even real). I’m the one who is doing stuff, not God or the Devil. The hand of God or the Devil or whatever doesn’t move me. I move my hand, not God, and they are just there, as feelings or something from inside me.

I basically don’t have a God or a Devil or whatever (at least not from my perspective) because they are just me. I am like the God or Devil or whatever.

In addition, I think the height of my ego has something to do with my sense of worship (or perhaps has some connection with my “Messiah Complex”, which I do believe that I have, like in this Twitter thread). Pete Buttigieg said that the decision for him to be gay (a same-sex attracted male) was made “way above my pay grade ☝️”. He was referring to his God, which is way above him. My God isn’t way above me. I’m a little like Donald Trump in that I have this big tall ego, so my God isn’t that far above me. Maybe I can get up to the height of my (imaginary) God with a ladder. Maybe if I am feeling grandiose, my God or Jesus or whatever and I are at about the same height. I think that Jesus was just a flesh and blood human who I could have just made eye contact and said “hi” to if we were both living in Galilee around the year 20 AD. We wouldn’t be talking in English, but still. I don’t think of Jesus as this magic man (see: https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1106262368500269056 ). Maybe other people thought that, but I think if video cameras existed at that time and the whole thing was on video tape, I don’t think it actually would have looked that way on video tape.

Was Jesus super incredibly influential? Yeah, but so was Adolf Hitler, and he wasn’t magic. Maybe some people thought he was (he thought was the Messiah or something, and the name he gave to himself, “der Führer”, meaning “the Leader” sort of connotes this greatness which other people bought into), but that’s not actually magic like Harry Potter kind of magic. That is more like emotional influential force. Every time a politician (or preacher) gets up on stage and gives a speech, they are sort of exerting emotional influential force. Some speakers exert more emotional influential force than others, but it’s still coming from a flesh and blood human person. Donald Trump may have given off the impression of being this super great thing that is 20 feet tall, but he’s actually this 243 pound man in his 70’s who is six feet three inches tall. If you were sitting next to him, you could poke him with your finger. Some people are more or less emotionally influential that other people, but they are all still flesh and blood people, and that includes Jesus (when he was alive, at least).

On the subject of very emotionally influential people, I think it is really important to use emotional influence for good rather than evil. Some people are really dumb and uninformed, and they will believe shit with no proof just because some emotionally influential person said it or preached it. Looking at Adolf Hitler’s quotes, I think he was aware of this:

People will believe things that politicians and preachers say even if there is no evidence, and based on Adolf Hitler’s quotes, I think he knew that he was lying. A person who fact checks everything to make sure it is true wouldn’t say “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

Hitler favored science over religion, but his science wasn’t actually based on true facts. Like look at these “Nazi Scientists”:

Measuring skulls (circumference of the skull, etc) is bullshit science. Like it’s one thing if a scientist gathers objective information, puts that information together, and then comes up with some conclusion that is derived from that factually correct objective information, but this is more like smart people intentionally seeking out information that props up something that they already believe which isn’t actually true. It’s bad science.

I can relate to Adolf Hitler a little bit, what with the ego, science, atheism, intelligence, and even an un-attraction away from or a response to physical cash money (*ugh*) [I dislike money – I would rather live in a tent than a gold mansion], but this is just wrong. I mean maybe if he had good mental health and positive, healthy relationships with his parents (there is something kind of Freudian about one’s God) he wouldn’t have lead the German people to commit mass murder. Also, there were bad economic times and a stupid post WWI policy that produced a massive economic problem that contributed to the rise of anger or hate (sort of like the Great Recession did while Obama was President), but after the WWI economic problem Hitler definitely contributed to the whole genocide thing.

Anyway, changing the subject a little bit, I think Bernie Sanders has emotional influence when he speaks, and he influences his followers, but he comes up with stupid shit like changing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.00. You can’t just change the wage from $7.25 to $15.00. That’s not how it works. You consult with economists who set up a plan to gradually increase it over a period of several years to a mathematically calculated inflation adjusted number, which by the way isn’t as high as $15.00. I think Bernie just picked a number that sounded good and said it over and over again. He’s got leadership skills, and I believe his intentions are good, but I honestly don’t think he’s that smart. My preference for him is based on the assumption that he will have someone smarter and more practical (like Elizabeth Warren) behind him, keeping him from doing something stupid.

What was I talking about again? Oh, yeah, I’m not religious. Also, vote for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

  • John

Blog post from Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1131606452626309120

Continuation blog post: https://johnreedforpresident.home.blog/2019/05/28/freedom-of-religion-by-john-reed/

Related tweet: https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1128532309983076353